Austin is a place where business professionals, artists, musicians, filmmakers and students all bring their passions to life. Even with its population growing rapidly, this city continues to welcome new residents with open arms. Over the past few years, several national magazines have touted Austin as a top place to live.
To experience "The Live Music Capital" of the world,
If you venture north on Red River Street, you'll find some of Austin's best live music venues. Emo's,
The Capitol Building
Built in 1856 and 1857, the
As you are heading south on
As you travel further on
Enjoy a number of musical, dance and theater events at the
Originally an African-American community half a mile outside of the city limits,
The strip of business along Guadalupe Street, bordering the
Take a leisurely walk or drive through this Central Austin neighborhood and view its historic homes. You will likely see many residents working in their yards, walking pets or riding bikes. Duval Road runs through the neighborhood and is home to the vegetarian restaurant Mother's Café and the popular
Austin offers plenty of accommodations for all types of travelers. Whether you are looking to be pampered in a spa resort, swept away by the charm of a bed and breakfast, or just need a room on a tight budget, you will find a comfortable place to stay.
Many of Austin's finest full-service luxury hotels are in and around the downtown area. The historic Driskill Hotel opened in 1886 and is still offering guests unique rooms and suites right on Sixth Street, where all the hustle and bustle of the live music scene lies. After a 30 million dollar renovation, Sheraton Hotel offers quality accommodations with convenience to the Texas State Capitol, East Sixth Street and the Austin Convention Center.
The Four Seasons Hotel pampers its guests with phenomenal personal service. Offering access to the Hike and Bike Trail, Town Lake and the Austin Convention Center, this is a popular place to stay for movie stars, musicians, families and business professionals. The Radisson Hotel and Suites on Town Lake offers easy access to downtown as well as to the Congress Avenue Bridge, where Mexican free-tailed bats put on a show at dusk.
An overnight stay at one of Austin's spa resorts will completely revive your spirit. The Lake Austin Spa Resort is close to downtown, on the shores of Lake Austin, and offers three to seven-night refresher and pampering packages. Try a blue seaweed body wrap or take a gardening class. Many outdoor activities - including water-skiing, golf and sailing - are also available.
The Drag and Hyde Park
In the central part of town, DoubleTree Club Hotel is the perfect environment for business travelers. Guests are invited to use the well-lighted personal workstations, a private conference room and other business facilities. It is convenient to the University of Texas as well as the downtown area. Also close to the aforementioned places is Days Inn, which has a 24-hour café next door, where Austin's music and club scene meets after hours.
For the budget-minded traveler, the Rodeway Inn University offers clean, well-maintained rooms and is close to the University of Texas campus. Or try the Excel Inn, which is further south, but close to St. Edwards University and minutes from the downtown area.
If you are looking for a unique Austin experience, spend a few days in one of the many bed and breakfast establishments here. Brook House, located in central Austin, offers three rooms inside the main house, as well as a carriage house and private cottage out back. Wonderful breakfasts are served on the porch, which is full of antique tables and ceiling fans. For a healthy twist, try Healthy Quarters, a centrally-located, 1930s cottage where refrigerators are stocked with organic produce. Here, guests have access to colon hydrotherapy treatments, electro-lymphatic therapy, flower essence therapy, ear candling and a variety of chiropractic treatments. Or try Miller-Crockett House Bed and Breakfast with a great view of the Austin skyline.
Visitors often think they will only find a plethora of Tex-Mex and barbecue restaurants in Austin. While these abound, you will also find a good selection of Japanese, Middle Eastern, Thai, Italian and vegetarian restaurants. Of course, this is only a sample of the diversity of food this town has to offer.
Austinites love to be comfortable and breathe fresh air; only some of the finer dining establishments enforce a dress code. This is a clean-air city, so most restaurants are completely smoke-free; if there happens to be a smoking section, it is usually outside. When inside the city limits, you will not be asked “smoking or non-smoking?” but if you venture to the outskirts of town, most restaurants do have designated smoking sections.
If you are downtown, try Manuel's for fine Mexican food or Clay Pit for a contemporary Indian dining experience. If sushi is what you're craving, you will find Kyoto, not far from the Capitol on Congress Avenue, offering Japanese food and a variety of sushi options. Hickory Street Bar and Grill is a popular downtown destination for its outdoor patio dining, extensive salad selection and weekend brunches. Stop by the Elephant Room for drinks and a variety of live jazz music, located below Kyoto in a smoky basement. For a more upscale drinking atmosphere try Speakeasy, offering swing dance lessons and musical standards from the 30s and 40s, along with original live music. Visitors and locals alike seem to enjoy the view of downtown from the rooftop deck.
Not too far from downtown is the Clarksville District, filled with upscale restaurants, vegetarian establishments, bistros, bakeries and more. Castle Hill Café offers a rotating menu of worldly gourmet dishes. Jeffrey's is popular among the upscale dinning crowd for its culinary panache. Visit Sweetish Hill Bakery for a variety of sandwiches, homemade soups, salads and pastries. Or, for an old-fashioned drugstore experience, stop by Nau's Enfield Drug for a hamburger and a malt shake. With a booming take-out business, Pok-e-Jo's Smokehouse serves mesquite-smoked and barbecued meats, including pork, beef, sausage, pork loin, ribs, chicken and turkey.
South Austin is home to Barton Springs Road, which houses a row of restaurants spanning several blocks. Romeo's offers Italian cuisine in a casual romantic setting. Indoor and outdoor seating is available at Shady Grove, serving hamburgers, Frito Pie, chili and Hippie Sandwiches for vegetarians. Chuy's has become somewhat of an Austin institution when it comes to Tex-Mex food. The colorful atmosphere offers an entertaining option for families or out of town guests. On South Congress, Guero's Taco Bar offers a Tex-Mex/Mexican dining experience and an occasional celebrity spotting. Threadgill's offers diner-style entrée options such as chicken-fried steak and meatloaf. Jovita's, located on South First Street, has played host to country music's Don Walser and offers tasty Tex-Mex food.
The Warehouse District offers several upscale options, as well as casual, laid-back eateries. Malaga's Wine and Tapas Bar showcases an extensive wine menu and serves tapas with a Spanish flair. Sullivan's serves Hollywood stars and politicos top-quality steak with an air of confidence. If you're looking for a more casual dinning spot, try Spaghetti Warehouse, offering steaks and pasta dishes. If you're looking for an Irish pub, look no further than Fado. You'll often find Gaelic football on the television and a menu filled with Irish-inspired appetizers. For a mellow pub experience, stop by Ginger Man, where you can sip on a beer in the couch-filled bar area. Need a cup of coffee? Head to Ruta Maya Coffee House, Austin's original coffeehouse, brewing coffee produced in Latin America and offering poetry readings and occasional live music. Oilcan Harry's is a large bar and dance floor playing host to Austin's diverse gay community, although the straight set can also often be found dancing the night away.
Not too far from the downtown area lies the neighborhood of Hyde Park, boasting a small cluster of wonderful places to dine, drink and grab your morning cup of coffee. Quack's 43rd Street Bakery offers a good selection of baked goods and a welcoming atmosphere in which to enjoy your cup of tea or coffee. For an exquisite dessert and liquor date indulge in Dolce Vita Gelato and Espresso Bar. Mother's Cafe and Garden offers vegetarian, lowfat and vegan menu items in a casual environment. Sit inside and enjoy the music, or head out to the peaceful patio, with its small fishpond and lush greenery. Hyde Park Bar & Grill is a bit more upscale in décor, but is famous for its Texas take on battered fries served the European way. ASTI Trattoria, with its modern design, is the newest addition to this area of Hyde Park. Specializing in dishes from Northern Italy, it offers delicious and creative desserts and upscale service.
As the "Live Music Capital of the World," Austin hosts a variety of live music every night of the week. The multi-faceted arts scene, offering traditional artwork alongside the avant-garde, is growing as rapidly as the city itself. Filmmakers have taken an interest in Austin, realizing the town has more to offer than an attractive setting. The city is overflowing with creative and talented people ready to share and entertain.
Whether you are a music fan searching for that up-and-coming band, or a musician looking for the perfect sound, you can carve out your niche here. The music scene has something for everybody: blues, jazz, fusion, pop/rock, noisepop, twee-pop, reggae, trip-hop, hip-hop, hard rock, country, Latino, classical, folk, experimental, garage and psychedelic. With 100 or more venues to choose from it may seem like a daunting task; for help, pick up The Chronicle, Austin's free weekly entertainment guide, and you will find information on all of the music venues and what acts will be gracing each stage.
Visit Stubb's, Red Eyed Fly, Antone's or Emo's to catch top local acts and independent touring musicians. For larger touring shows, check out La Zona Rosa, Austin Music Hall or the Stubb's amphitheater. Stop by Hole in the Wall for live music seven nights a week, or the Flamingo Cantina to sample a variety of bands. Live music in Austin is not limited to the club scene though; frequently musicians are found performing in record stores, coffee shops and art galleries.
The Austin Museum of Art hosts ten to twelve exhibitions annually, presenting significant 20th-century American visual art. Works by artists from Mexico and the Caribbean are also represented, as well as local and Texan artists.
The Austin Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria is a beautiful place to enjoy diverse artwork created by 20th-century artists from around the world. The Mediterranean-style villa that is home to the museum was built in 1916 and is surrounded by lush gardens and quiet paths. The Art School at Laguna Gloria is also on the grounds, offering classes for children and adults in sculpture, graphic arts, painting, jewelry-making and more.
For a multicultural Latin American experience visit the Mexic-Arte Museum, featuring three galleries that exhibit works from Mexic-Arte's permanent collection, along with touring and self-curated shows. The museum also presents theatrical, musical and performing arts events on weekends.
Sculptor Elisabet Ney moved to Austin in the late 1800s and built Formosa, her home and studio. This Greek/Gothic building, now the Elisabet Ney Museum, is dedicated to the life and works of the artist. Ney sculpted the figures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin that stand on the Texas State Capitol grounds today.
If it's a beautiful day in Austin, you must visit the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Charles Umlauf's work is showcased here in the outdoor Xeriscape garden, where visitors linger by the pond. This casual setting is home to 62 bronze and cast pieces.
Austin offers big Broadway shows in legendary theaters like the Paramount Theatre or the University of Texas' Bass Concert Hall. For an interesting change of pace try the experimental, Off Broadway-type shows presented by one of the 70 theater companies thriving in Austin.
For original cutting-edge performances visit the Vortex Theatre in East Austin. Once an abandoned warehouse, this building has been converted into an intimate, comfortable, 80-seat venue that showcases contemporary theater, nationally known performance artists, multi-media performances, musical theater and ritual theater.
Visit the Dobie Theatre, located on the second floor of Dobie Mall on the University of Texas campus, for independent releases, the avant-garde and foreign films. If you are looking for a place where you can order great food and have it served to you while you take in a film, try the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, where visitors can catch old B-movies, historic silent films and more.
One of only three professional ballet companies in Texas, Ballet Austin showcases dancers from around the world. The company presents five seasonal ballets, including the popular Nutcracker every December. Ballet East is a community of dancers from many ethnic backgrounds, with a strong emphasis on Austin's Latino dancers.
Political satire is especially strong at Esther's Follies, a campy comedy venue located on East Sixth Street that has become part of the fabric of Austin. Just next door is the Velveeta Room, where local and visiting comic talents take the stage and try the outrageous. If you're looking for big-name comics, look no further than the Capitol City Comedy Club; nationally known comics like Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Foxworthy and Bobcat Goldthwait have all taken this stage in support of their art.